A poignant portrayal of both the vulnerability and passion of youth, Blain Broomfield’s novella, Morsus, follows four students around the campus of Connolly College, Dublin. Set in the Spring/Summer term of 2007, these young and well-educated protagonists have the world at their feet – albeit the romantic world of Celtic Tiger Ireland.
In the style of Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho, Morsus is written in a stream of consciousness. Tales of drugs, lust and jealousy ensue as Broomfield’s ability to characterise is evidenced throughout. The setting and characters will be recognised by most – young students whose world was masked by Ireland’s prosperity, their sense of entitlement no doubt familiar to those of similar backgrounds. From Freddie adjusting to urban life to Samantha, the intellectual ‘It Girl’, the reader cannot but find themselves relating to this debut novel.
The plot tells of the insecurities faced by these students as they discover what it means to be a young person in Dublin during the elaborate noughties. Despite this somewhat austere premise, Morsus remains light-hearted from start to end. Abercrombie and Starbucks feature throughout as Broomfield recreates the glory days of the student. Although certain similarities can be drawn from the Ross O’Carroll-Kelly books, the D4 anecdotes and satirical nature, Morsus has a certain rawness not found in the Paul Howard series. Each character is dealing with their own problems while trying to fit in with the crowd.
Broomfield, himself a Politics and Economics graduate of UCD, acknowledges that the book is partly autobiographical. It is clear from the almost sentimental depictions of the time that the author thought fondly of his college days, noting in the preface, “There is no beginning, middle or end, as that is how it seemed at the time.” From moments of self-deprecation to overt cockiness, these characters and their experiences are accessible to all.
Less than a hundred pages long, Morsus should be read by all students and graduates alike, as it not only sheds some light on an almost dismissed era, but is as significant today as it was during the economic boom, in that the pressing issues of young people remain the same.
A contemporary tale of campus life during the Celtic Tiger, Broomfield has achieved the perfect balance of satirical humour and sincerity.